That time of year again, when my mind drifts backwards, slipping back to the day that is now seventeen years ago.
My belief that things happen for reason, nothing is an accident or a coincidence, falters, and I am blindsided by that old feeling of fault and blame.
Forever etched in my mind and heart; like a scar.
I am sure that for the rest of my life I will remember this day, in full detail. All of the time that led up to the day and even the brief period afterwards; and sadly, it will not be a day of happy recollection.
Deep down inside, I know and I can say, rationally, that what happened was a plan that had nothing to do with me; it was someone else’s journey, the path that was meant for them and my own path did nothing to effect theirs.
Somehow though, I can never seem to fully accept that as the truth.
Had I not been willing to be an active participant in something that I knew was not right, perhaps several other paths wouldn’t have had to take a turn down a horrifying, heartbreaking and dark road. If I had not been involved, maybe their lives would have been brighter and happier, not broken by sadness and loss.
Is it right that I put such a heavy weight upon my own shoulders, by accepting blame that was never voiced? Is it selfish of me, just as I was then, to even consider that they would waste time and energy blaming me?
A family that likely would have encountered the same issues, whether it was me or another, met with something bigger than all of that could have ever amounted to. And it wasn’t someone else, it was me. While I may not be to “blame”, physically, I didn’t cause it to happen, I did add other physical and mental stresses that couldn’t have made things any better, easier or healthier.
What happened taught me though. It taught me a few things then that have absolutely stayed with me.
I learned how sacred and special certain connections are, and how in an instant they can be taken from you. I learned how no one has the right to step in between that which they have no possible way of understanding of the workings to begin with.
That night, seventeen years ago, after being pressured into going to the hospital, I broke down. I couldn’t believe what I saw, and realized that I couldn’t begin to imagine what this family had been, and was now forced into, dealing with. I knew that I had no business being “close” to this family.
I wasn’t running from pain; I was running away from being the cause of pain. From that moment, I couldn’t stand the thought of being involved any longer. My heart was aching, throbbing with pain that I couldn’t fully understand, but that I knew was bigger than anything I had dealt with before.
I struggled with how to end the misery. After all that had recently happened, who was I to now add my departure to the mix? (There’s that old selfish talk again!) Despite all of the hurt and pain that already existed, it was easier to prolong the disengagement until things had calmed down a little bit. And so, I pretended that everything was the same and that I could handle it all; indifference being one of my strong suits. If I didn’t care, nothing could hurt or affect me.
So, I walked the fine line between being involved and doing my own thing, quietly, carefully and “thoughtfully”.
The old wasn’t ready to be tossed to the side, and soon became that annoying entity that wouldn’t leave, or allow me to quietly go. That friendly old situation that pulls strings, manipulates, threatens and frightens, all with the belief that they will be able to make you change your mind and find your will to actually be their own.
But, for once, it clicked, and I realized I was strong when I needed to.
The attempts at reining me back into the web were never going to succeed, and I wasn’t going to be a player or even a bystander any longer. I broke the tie as quickly as possible and never looked back.
That perfect, sweet, angelic face was more than I ever needed to realize the truth; I learned my lesson.
Thank you angel. And Happy Birthday.